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There’s a stale whiff surrounding Amazon’s medium-concept hijacking thriller 7500. It’s a film that plays like a piece of dated and uneasy United 93 fan fiction, unpleasant and mostly unengaging in its attempt to use a real world-adjacent setup as the basis for an exercise in claustrophobic suspense. It fails at that, working only in very brief bursts rather than as one extended nightmare, but instead, will work most effectively as an answer to the question “Whatever happened to Joseph Gordon-Levitt?” The answer being: “Sadly, this.”
He plays Tobias, the American co-pilot of a flight travelling from Berlin to Paris with his girlfriend, and mother of his child, also onboard as a flight attendant. After same brief introductory banter, the plane is taken over by a small group of Islamic extremists with shards of broken bottles as weapons. German writer-director Patrick Vollrath keeps us inside the cockpit throughout, watching events alongside Tobias, a soft-spoken everyman who responds to the chaos with a believable combination of confusion and shock, trying to doggedly do his job as the world around him crumbles. But even at a brisk 93 minutes, first-timer Vollrath can’t quite find enough ways to squeeze the necessary amount of anxiety out of his enclosed scenario, front-loading his film with the most effective moments before our interest starts to dissipate. He makes a bold decision early on with a shock death that might work as a grisly jolt but the unintended side-effect is that it sucks out a great deal of the dramatic tension, which was minimal anyway.
A question that refuses to fly away throughout is exactly what the point of any of this really seems to be because 7500 plays out like a sub-Paul Greengrass-directed true story yet it’s pure fiction. The technically proficient yet troubling misery porn of United 93 was defended by some as an attempt to honour the courage of those who stood up and fought back against hijackers but without the factual backbone, 7500 feels wildly unnecessary. If Vollrath’s motivation was to showcase his skills as a genre film-maker then there’s still a disconnect, his one-location thriller not thrilling as much as it needs to. The final act is particularly tedious with Vollrath relying on the lazy age-old trope of the reluctant criminal sidekick who the hero can gently steer away from the mission at hand. Any initial spark of suspense has been truly dampened by this stage and we’re eager for the plane to land, crash or explode mid-air, anything for the credits to roll.
Gordon-Levitt is a cog in the machine rather than a character and it’s hard for him to do much with that, going through the motions provided but never finding a moment to elevate. It’s a role that could have been taken on by any unknown actor and as his first film in three years, it’s a rather unexciting comeback (later this year he’ll hope for more from buzzy Netflix sci-fi thriller Project Power and Aaron Sorkin’s Oscar-aiming The Trial of the Chicago 7).
For fans of joyless screaming and stabbing, there might be something here worth your time but for those who expect more thrills from their thrillers or at least something close to a purpose, 7500 is a flight worth missing.
Source: The Guardian
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